England v Sri Lanka: Cricket World Cup 2023 – live | Cricket World Cup 2023

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Key events

Simon Burnton’s preview

Can you hear the drums Romeo?

When Sri Lanka stunned England in the 2019 World Cup, 21-year-old Avishka Fernando made a majestic 39-ball 49, taking Jofra Archer to the cleaners in the process. He looked like a future superstar.

His record since is no more than okay, and he’s nowhere this squad. Does anyone know what happened? If not, could someone ask Andrew Fidel Fernando?

“My shabby amusement at Glenn Maxwell’s collapse-inducingly ludicrous first-baller against Pakistan has deservedly received full karmic retribution with England’s humbling by South Africa and then of course the Super Max redemption yesterday,” writes Brian Withington. “I’m hoping that’s quite enough punishment for one tournament, but your warning about Sri Lanka’s record against England makes sobering reading.

“However, lest we forget, England were deeply in the mire in 2019 before winning four consecutive cup finals. (Some New Zealanders would query that result in the actual final, of course.) But then, I can’t recall the team and toss selection being quite as chaotic four years ago, nor Cap’n Morgan forgetting the name of an unfortunate player just dropped. Ominous.”

It feels different this time, but then it always does until the fightback gets going. I thought they were done in 2019, and that would have been a far greater humiliation, though I agree it was nowhere near as chaotic or confusing as this. They made one change, essentially, Liam Plunkett for Moeen Ali. This time, as Steven Finn says on TMS, they’re chasing their own tail.

Can we clear one thing up? The received wisdom is that England rather ingeniously weakened their batting and bowling with their selection against South Africa on Saturday. I’m not sure about the former: on current form, I’d argue, Ben Stokes, David Willey and Gus Atkinson will get you more runs in an ODI than Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes.

England were a mess, that’s beyond dispute, but let’s not charge them with offences they didn’t commit.

Team news: three changes for England

England continue to adjust the deckchairs/search for a winning formula. Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes replace Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson and Reece Topley. That feels pretty harsh on Atkinson, though playing three spinners makes sense if it’s a dry track.

Sri Lanka make two changes. Angelo Mathews, who starred when Sri Lanka stunned England at Headingley in 2019, and Lahiru Kumara come in for Chamika Karunaratne and Dushan Hemantha.

England Bairstow (wk), Malan, Root, Stokes, Buttler (c/wk), Moeen, Livingstone, Woakes, Willey, Rashid, Wood.

Sri Lanka Nissanka, Perera, Mendis (c/wk), Samarawickrama, Asalanka, Mathews, Dhananjaya, Theekshana, Rajitha, Kumara, Madushanka.

England win the toss and bat

Jos Buttler says the pitch is dryer than usual, which makes batting first an even more straightforward decision. “We’ve been short of our best,” he says. “We’ve done enough talking, it’s all about performing.”

Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain, the brilliant Kusal Mendis, says he would have batted first as well.

Pitchwatch This is the ground on which Australia played Pakistan last Friday. Between them they scored 672 runs at more than seven an over, with 25 sixes and 59 fours.

This is the only data England need to consider. Jos, should you win the toss, please for the love of wellness bat first.


Hello, good morning and welcome to the last-chance saloon. For a team whose LinkedIn page proudly says skill: running towards the danger, England don’t half enjoy having their back against their wall. For the third time in the past 12 months, they’ve left themselves with no margin for error and a whole heap of cricket still to play.

There’s an outside chance England could lose one more game and qualify for the semi-finals, but realistically they have to win five matches in a row just to reach the last four. It’s been done before – not by Pakistan’s cornered tigers, wonderful though they were, but by Australia’s red-hot goers. In 1999 they were at the precipice of an enormous crossroads after losing to New Zealand and Pakistan in the first group stage.

As he sat alone in a Durham hotel with a club sandwich and a Coke, watching Manchester United score two injury-time goals to win the Champions League and the Treble, their captain Steve Waugh had a moment of clarity.

As I watched this stunning fightback I couldn’t help thinking that anything is possible in sport and in life, if you want it badly enough and have enough faith in those around you. What we have to do in the World Cup suddenly seems quite simple – go out there, give it a ‘red-hot go’, and trust ourselves.

Independently of Waugh – they were barely talking – an out-of-form Shane Warne drew a similar conclusion. “I thought that if this was going to be my last chance to win the World Cup, I was going to give it a red-hot dip.”

Australia, like England, had to win five games in a row just to reach the semi-finals. You know the rest. And if you don’t, you can probably guess. We wouldn’t be citing this precedent if Australia lost every game and went home to a banquet of rotten eggs, would we.

All England can do is win the next game and see where it takes them. By that, I mean this bloody game. Look, I know what you’re thinking. I know what you’re up to. It’s just Sri Lanka, they’ve been rubbish, this’ll be a formality and then we can move on to the big one against India on Sunday. If England win that, they’re brawling!

England’s performances, never mind results, don’t justify such hyperopia. Sri Lanka, despite an injury crisis and some disappointing results, are above England in the table – and they’ve had a tougher run of fixtures. They also have a terrific World Cup record against England, with only one defeat in the last 30 years.

In the current climate, every opponent is dangerous. All England can do is feel the bricks against their back, trust their muscle memory, stop talking. And start running.

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